Issue: July 2015
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Organ Transplants: Saving Lives, Facing Risks, Minimizing Complications

Introduction

Liability Risks for Organ Transplants

More than 7,000 organ transplants were performed in the period January through March 2015 in the United States, but approximately 123,000 people were still waiting for lifesaving organ transplants in June 2015. An average of 21 people die every day while waiting for a transplant.

 

Medical advances, including methods of tissue typing and the use of immunosuppressant drugs, have enabled physicians to perform successful transplants and allowed organ recipients to survive longer. Organ transplants, however, remain complicated surgical procedures.

 

Complications can arise in connection with an organ transplant, or in treating a patient who has or needs an organ transplant. Accidents and injuries can arise, including the possibility of a patient contracting a disease, such as cancer, from an infected organ. Other types of errors can occur, such as the accidental disposal of an organ viable for transplant. When these problems occur in connection with a transplant, litigation can result.

 

Attorneys, physicians, hospitals, insurers, employers, and other potential parties to the litigation should be aware of the types of lawsuits and liability issues that can arise in connection with organ transplants.


The Perspectives: Improve Your Strategy

Attorneys:

What proof is needed to establish medical malpractice related to an organ transplant? And, what is a potential strategy for the attorney to employ?

Physicians:

How can liability for medical malpractice involving an organ transplant be avoided? And, what is a potential strategy for the physician to employ?

Insurers:

Can a payout under a medical malpractice liability policy be avoided by proof that the health provider was not negligent or there was no coverage for the health provider’s actions? And, what is a potential strategy for the insurer to employ? 

Employers:

Can an employer be subject to liability for an employee’s organ transplant? And, what is a potential strategy for the employer to use?


Practice the Technique: Checklists

Attorneys:

Check this list of facts and circumstances tending to show a health provider’s liability for malpractice or negligence involving an organ transplant.

Physicians:

Presented is a checklist of items a physician must consider when defending against claims of malpractice or negligence involving an organ transplant.

Insurers:

The insurer should check these “red flags” and inconsistencies when investigating a claim of injury involving an organ transplant.

Employers:

Use this checklist to determine if the employee’s organ transplant is “work related” and occurred “in the course of the employment.”

Expert Analysis

 What Proof Is Needed for a Transplant Malpractice Action?

Robert D. Kreisman, JD

How Can the Shortage of Kidneys for Transplantation Be Rectified?

Philip J. Cook, Ph.D; Kimberly D. Krawiec, JD

What Factors Impact the Success of Allogeneic Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation?

Hugo Fernandez, MD

Litigation

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Arbitration or mediation may be required by contract or statute, may be mandated by the court or, in some circumstances, may be the appropriate method for a negotiated resolution.  


Reasons To Reach Settlement

The following are reasons why the attorney, physician, insurer, or employer would want to reach settlement, and not take the action to trial.


Reasons To Go To Trial

The following are reasons why the attorney, physician, insurer, or employer would want to take the action to trial.


Jury Awards and Settlements

How much have juries awarded and what settlements have been reached recently in organ transplant injury cases?



Medical Examples

Organ Transplants

This section provides detailed medical information on organ transplants, including terminology, donor and recipient considerations, specific transplantations, and complications including organ rejection. Also discussed is the transplant patient’s ability to work. 



Law and Medicine Resources

Law and Medicine Resources

Provided is a listing of law and medical resources for further information on transplants.  


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Organ Transplants: Saving Lives, Facing Risks, Minimizing Complications

Table of Contents
Introduction

Expert Analysis
   Robert D. Kreisman, JD
   Philip J. Cook, Ph.D; Kimberly D. Krawiec, JD
   Hugo Fernandez, MD

The Perspectives: Improve Your Strategy
   Attorneys
   Physicians and Health Providers
   Insurers
   Employers and Managers

Practice the Technique: Checklists
   Attorney Checklist
   Physician Checklist
   Insurer Checklist
   Employer Checklist

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Reasons To Reach Settlement

Reasons To Go To Trial

Jury Awards and Settlements

Organ Transplants

Law and Medicine Resources